THE CULTURE AND CUSTOM OF THE INDIAN COMMUNITY: DEATH: AFTER A DEATH
CLEANING THE HOUSE
The house must be cleaned soon after the dead body is brought to the cremation place. Oil lamps are lighted on the place where the dead body was laid. Family members are required to bathe to cleanse one self. Food consisting of vegetables and fish are served. A pail of water is left in front of the house while oil lamp is continuously lighted. Family members have to touch salt and pure dust and then smeared them on the forehead before entering the house. They also have to wash their feet using the water in the pail left in front of the house. The clay pot carriers have to bathe in a pool or in the river to signify the end of the kollic catti ceremony.
COLLECTING THE ASHES OF THE CREMATED
The ashes are collected on the next day. Milk is first poured on the ashes to cool the ambers. Ashes from the head part and from other parts of the body are placed into different pots. The ashes are either buried or placed in yellow cloth and then released into the sea. Prayers are held by the family of the dead.
The mourning period is eight or 16 days after a death. After the eighth day the dead relatives and friends congregate at the dead house bringing along traditional foods such as vegetables and fruits. The dead picture or portrait is placed on a cupboard or fixed on the wall and garlanded with flowers. Beside the picture or portrait are lighted oil lamps and sprinkles of multi type flowers. The prayer ceremony begins by requesting from God to protect the dead. Holy songs are played. The guests are then served.
Mourning on the 16th day is called karumaati or praying day. Complete tents are put up, while the portrait of the dead is beautifully decorated. The pedanda or monk is invited to conduct the praying ceremony. Bricks are tied with threads and wrapped in red cloths to be placed inside a pot, and then wet with water, milk, young coconut juice and scented water.
This kal niruttutal ceremony is held three times beginning at 11 pm. The second starts at 12 midnight while the last one starts on early morning the next day. Holy songs are played throughout the ceremony. Pedanda or the monk makes a coffin replica from grass. With utters of mantras and prayers the grass is burnt so that the dead is always calm. After the ceremony the pedanda is paid with money, vegetables and fruits for his service.